Authors: Bethany Lopez
“Yeah? Sorry, boss, I wandered off for a minute,” I admitted, slightly embarrassed at being caught drifting off.
“Can you come back into the office for a minute?” He asked, before turning and walking back towards his office, without waiting for my reply.
I looked over at my buddy Cal, who’d popped his head out from under the hood of a Chevy he was working on. He met my gaze and shrugged, indicating that he wasn’t sure what the boss wanted this time.
I picked up a rag and made an attempt to wipe the grease off my hands, before proceeding down the hall. I knocked lightly on the open door and peeked my head around the corner.
“Come in and have a seat TJ,” my boss said in greeting.
I walked in, running my hand nervously through my hair, not caring that I was probably streaking my dirty blonde hair with grease. Being called in to the office always made me feel like I was a kid getting in trouble again. Or worse, like I was being called in to answer questions about the bruises on my body, when the last time I’d eaten was, or when was the last time I’d bathed and changed clothes. Either way, I hated feeling weak and uneasy.
I sat and waited.
Our hours had already been cut, and I knew business was bad, so I figured whatever the boss wanted to say couldn’t be good.
“TJ, you know things have been going downhill here for a while, and I’ve tried to do what I could to preserve the business and get back on even ground, but I’ve come to a decision… There’s no way easy way to say this, so I’m just gonna rip the band aid,” The defeated look on his face made my stomach clench. “I’m selling the business. Mary and I have raised four kids, and I’ve had this shop for over twenty-five years, and it’s just more stress than I want to deal with. We’re going to retire and head down to Florida to be by our oldest. She’s having her second baby, and Mary wants to be by her grandkids. I know you and Cal will take a hit from this, but you’re both hard workers and good at what you do, so I know you won’t have any trouble finding another job. I’ll be happy to write a letter of recommendation if you need one.”
I felt a mixture of anger and hurt at his words. Not because I didn’t understand his position, or wish he and his wife the best, but I needed this job. I depended on it. I loved the work, and the privacy of living on the grounds. I’d been picking up painting jobs with my friend Brock’s company, but it wasn’t full time work, and it didn’t pay as much as working at the shop did. The clenching of my stomach turned into a burn.
I hated the thought of losing my job and my apartment. They weren’t much, but they were mine. I made a decent living and had a stable environment, something I’d never really had before. The thought of not knowing where my next paycheck was coming from, or whether I’d have money to eat and pay rent, tore me apart.
But that wasn’t my boss’s problem. It was mine.
I’d start looking for another job and see if I could pick up some extra jobs with Brock.
“When do you need me out of the apartment?” I asked warily.
“This weekend,” he responded with a frown. “I’m sorry I can’t give you more time, TJ, but we’ve already had a couple of people interested in the property.”
I nodded absently, my mind reeling as I tried to plan what my next step could be. Scott had just gotten Cal off his couch, and he was having issues with his fiancée, Victoria, so I didn’t want to impose on him. Cal and Shelly had just worked out their marital problems, and Cal had moved back in with her, so there was no way I would ask them to put me up. Not when they were just getting back on track.
I thought about my grandparents, and felt the familiar rush of sadness. I’d only had them in my life for a few years, but they’d been the best years of my life. They’d taught me what it was to feel loved, and they’d done their best to rebuild my trust and faith in people. They’d passed away last year, so they wouldn’t be around to save me this time.
I was going to have to figure this out on my own.
Thank you so much to the readers. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you give my books a chance. Thank you!
Thank you to the wonderful people who agreed to Beta Read 8 Weeks: Marilyn Almodovar, Jennifer Snyder, Kristi Strong, Taneesha Freidus, Autumn from the Autumn Review, Shanyn Day, and Brooklyn Skye. Thank you all so much for your input!
Thanks to Shanyn again, and Inkslinger PR, for the encouragement and support. I love you guys!
Thanks to Kristina Circelli for editing, Kelsey Kukal-Keeton for the wonderful portfolio of photos (I’m so happy with the picture I chose), to Karen at White Hot Formatting, and to the scrumptious Allie at B Design for the beautiful cover. You have all truly become a team to me, and my books are made better because of all of you!
Thanks to Raine, whether you feel the same or not, I view you as my partner in crime. I’m so lucky to have “met” you two and a half years ago, and I cherish your input!
Thanks to the fabulous women from my Story 4 Story group, for giving me a safe place to talk, vent, and share thoughts and ideas. I’m so happy to have you all in my life.
Finally, a huge Thank You to my family for allowing me to live my dream, and supporting me every step of the way.
About the Author
Award-Winning Author Bethany Lopez began self-publishing in June 2011. Since then she has published various YA and NA books. She is a lover of romance, family, and friends, and enjoys incorporating those things in what she writes. When she isn't reading or writing, she loves spending time with her husband and children, traveling whenever possible.
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